Two more victims of the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks identified

Two more victims of the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks are identified by cutting edge DNA testing days before the 20th anniversary – but more than a thousand victims’ remains have not been found

  • Dorothy Morgan, of Hempstead, and a man whose family ask that his name be withheld, were two of the latest victims identified in the 9/11 attack 
  • The New York City Chief Medical Examiner’s Office used breakthrough DNA testing to identify them
  • 2,753 people perished at the World Trade Center site on September 11, 2001
  • Although the office has identified the fragments of 1,647 people, 1,106 remain unspoken for – identifications had slowed, with the last ID made in 2019 
  • Medical examiners are using DNA testing to identify the remains  
  • Morgan was identified through remains recovered in 2001, and the other man from remains recovered in 2001, 2002, and 2006 
  • ‘We made a promise to the families of World Trade Center victims to do whatever it takes for as long as it takes,’ Chief Medical Examiner Barbara Sampson said 
  • The announcement comes just before the 20th anniversary of the attacks 

Dorothy Morgan, 47, of Hempstead

The identity of two previously unidentified victims of the 9/11 Word Trade Center attacks were  revealed just days before the U.S. marks the 20th anniversary of the tragedy.

The New York City Chief Medical Examiner’s Office said Dorothy Morgan, of Hempstead, and a man whose family asked that his name to be with held, were identified through ongoing DNA testing of the 1,108 victims who could not be identified. 

‘Twenty years ago, we made a promise to the families of World Trade Center victims to do whatever it takes for as long as it takes to identify their loved ones, and with these two new identifications, we continue to fulfill that sacred obligation,’ said Dr. Barbara A. Sampson, Chief Medical Examiner of the City of New York. 

‘No matter how much time passes since September 11, 2001, we will never forget, and we pledge to use all the tools at our disposal to make sure all those who were lost can be reunited with their families.’ 

Morgan, 47, who worked as a broker in Marsh & McLennan at the World Trade Center, was identified through testing remains recovered in 2001. 

The unnamed man’s identity was confirmed through testing remains recovered in 2001, 2002, and 2006. 

Dorothy Morgan and the unnamed man were among the 2,754 people who died at the World Trade Center during the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001

‘No matter how much time passes since September 11, 2001, we will never forget,’ said Barbara Sampson, New York City’s Chief Medical Examiner

Of the 2,753 victims of the September 11 attacks, the remains of 1,646 have been identified – Michael Haub, a member of FDNY’s Ladder Company 4, was identified in 2019

They are the first two victims to be identified since Michael Haub in October 2019, but about 40 per cent of the estimated 2,753 who died at the World Trade Center remain unidentified, ABC 7 reported. 

Mark Desire, head of the Office of Chief Medical Examiner’s missing persons and body identification unit, said the two were identified through a new breakthrough technique call Next-Generation Sequencing.

NGS uses a device about the size of a desktop printer, which analyzes different components of DNA than longer-standing methods – instead of using the nucleus of a cell the machine looks at genetic materials found in mitochondria.

While experts have said that some of the remains have been rendered unidentifiable by the damage they’re incurred, the new technology has helped identify samples that could not previously be analyzed.

The technology had been used by the Department of Defense, which identified the remains of hundreds of veterans from World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War since 2016. 

‘We continue to push the science out of necessity to make more identifications,’ Desire said. ”The commitment today is as strong as it was in 2001.’  

The new NGS system uses a device (pictured), about the size of a desktop printer, which analyses different components of DNA than longer-standing methods.

A helmet and turnout coat belonging to firefighter Jonathan Lelpi and the badge and gun belonging to police office John Perry, both who died in the September 11 attacks, on display at the 9/11 Tribute Museum 


Pictured are two magnum revolvers encrusted in melted concrete, which are on display at the 9/11 Tribute Museum (right) and other artifacts recovered from the site of the 9/11 terror attacks (left)

In the past 20 years since the attack, 48 victims have been identified using dental x-rays, 15 were identified by others viewing their corpses, seven were named using objects and clothing on their person, 33 using fingerprints, 9 using photos and 3 using other methods, according to the September 11 Families Association.

The lion’s share, a whopping 800, have been named using DNA testing.

Other indicators, like tattoos and personal effects, were combined with DNA testing to get a positive ID for 633 victims.

Presently, the unidentified 7,882 fragments of the victims are stored in a 2,500- square-foot repository on bedrock between the two footprints of the Twin Towers at the National September 11 Memorial Complex – a total of 21,906 fragments were recovered. 

The OCME began training to use the new technology in 2018, but COVID-19 delayed the approval process.

Rescue crews were at the scene working around the clock at the remains of the World Trade Center following airplane attacks in New York City

New York City’s Freedom Tower and the 9/11 Memorial and Museum now stand at the site of the city’s greatest tragedy. The city will mark the 20th year anniversary of the attacks on Saturday

‘As a forensic scientist, you’re trained to be neutral and unbiased,’ Desire told the New York Times in 2018.

‘But with the World Trade Center investigation, it’s a different kind of case and when you meet with the families and the hugs and the thank yous, it gets emotional with them and it really helps with that drive to keep improving that process.’ 

Dr. Timothy McMahon, director of the Department of Defense DNA operations for the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System, called the new technology a game-changer.

‘Will it solve all cases? Probably not,’ McMahon said. ‘But even if it leads to 20 percent identification, that is significant. You are bringing closure to someone’s family on this.’

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